Monday, August 18, 2014

On Shanta Chaudhary's book : कमलरीदेखि सभासद सम्म


I just finished reading the autobiography of Shanta Chaudhary, a Nepalese (Nepali) woman who lived the life of a slave before being a member of the Nepali constituent assembly. It recounts the details of a horrific childhood in the Mid-Western Development Region of Nepal and the perseverance  it takes to climb out of that kind of poverty. 

I started reading the book for no other reason than that my Dad asked me to. When I started, I did not have a particular purpose in mind; I have read ghastlier stories about lives more wretched than hers and I know that there are people in Nepal living very difficult lives even as I write this post from my beautiful home.I have seen people begging for money on the streets of all of the cities that I have visited and like thousands of others, I have walked past them. 

People tell me that it is necessary too learn about the lives of the less fortunate because it makes you more grateful for the life you have now. That to me seems like a selfish reason but I decided to stick to it this time. So here is a list, based on Ms. Chaudhary's book, of some of the things that a lot of people don't think about but should be grateful for. Maybe it will help us find better ways to live.

1. A roof over your head that doesn't leak.
2. Access to medicines, even if it is just a paracetamol.
3. A nation where laws are not only made but also implemented.
4. The newspaper, radio or television that ensures that other people cannot make a fool out of you.
5. Not having to go 5 days straight with nothing to eat.
6. Your paycheck, if you have one that gives you more than a meager 7 dollars a year when you work 12 hours a day.
7. The freedom to hug and kiss your child when it cries.
8. The freedom to feed your child when it is hungry.
9. The fact that you did not go to bed on an empty stomach last night.
10. The fact that you haven't lived your entire life within a 50 km radius.
11. The cars and buses you ride everyday, instead of walking.
12. The hours you spent sleeping after 4 a.m in the morning. Ms. Chaudhary had to wake up at 4 a.m in the morning to do someone else's household work.
13. The fact that you have never been sexually abused by someone you cannot speak a word against.
14.Your job that pays you more than 80 cents a day.
15. Your boss/company that gives you the money they owe you on time.
16. Your hands that have never been fractured by your spouse during a heated argument.
17. The fact that people have not poisoned your pet because they do not approve of your political beliefs.
18. Your clothes and the fact that you have more then two sets of them.
19. Your ability to read.
20. The fact that you did not/will not have to wait 7-8 years to buy a new set of clothing for your kids.

Once again, I do not pretend to know what duties one human being has towards another but trying to be as generous as possible seems like a good idea. If this list does not prompt you to reconsider some of your ideas about your personal wealth and privilege, something else will. There are worse misfortunes in the world and better writers of better lists or newspaper articles. 
त्येही हो .